Cascade Skyline - with Microsoft Logo and Project Support header - author Brian Smith

September, 2008

  • Brian Smith's Microsoft Project Support Blog

    New Content from the Project Server UA Team

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    Fresh from the pens (or keyboards) of our UA team are the following articles.  Thanks to Efren, Robert, Mike, Sonia, Jim and David.  And the mention of Britney Spears isn’t some cheap trick to get more hits on my site – the podcast actually exists – and for my US readers the date of the article isn’t January 4th…

    GPS Assistance in Roadmapping an EPM Deployment: How do you create a roadmap for an EPM implementation? This is the latest white paper by Chris Vandersluis in the "From the Trenches — Deploying the EPM Solution in the Real World" column on the Project Server TechCenter page.

    Database maintenance plans for Project Server 2007  This topic describes best practices for creating database maintenance plans for Project Server 2007 databases.

    Project Server 2007 Hyper-V guide This downloadable, 37-page document provides IT administrators with information about how to set up Project Server 2007 in a Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V environment. This guide includes technical information, procedures, and recommendations regarding planning a Project Server 2007 deployment for a Hyper-V environment in areas such as architecture, deployment, configuration best practices, system resource cost, and measuring virtual system performance.

    Create a custom field   Use this article to learn how to create, import, insert, and rename a custom field.

    Watch this: Create a custom field  This video walks you through the process of creating a custom field that is associated with a list, and that uses graphical indicators.

    Work with the Gantt Chart view  This article provides information on how to use each part of the Gantt Chart view.

    Project Server Quick Reference Guide for project managers  This quick reference guide displays all the tasks a project manager is likely to do with Project Server. A team member version is due out soon.

    Podcast: Britney Spears, the ultimate project manager This is a link to an external podcast about Britney Spears as the ultimate project manager. It is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but makes good points about project management skills in general.

    What’s all this talk about Web 2.0 This Office Hours article discusses Web 2.0 and software plus services model.

     

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    Project Server 2007: Moving a copy of Production to Test – Part 1

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    ***Update - for a detailed step by step document for moving from one domain to another take a look at http://blogs.msdn.com/brismith/archive/2009/06/22/project-server-2007-migration-from-one-domain-to-another.aspx *** 

    This is a request I have had a few times, most recently from Dan, and I have decided to do this in two parts.  The first here, is a high level view, and I will follow this, hopefully within a week or so, with a more detailed description of the steps involved.  Ever system has its own idiosyncrasies and customizations so no guarantee that these steps will get you exactly where you need to be, but it should get you pretty close.

    I will present a couple of options, the first based on the SharePoint full farm backup and restore – then the second based on taking the 4 project databases and the content database containing the project workspaces and provisioning a new site against the project databases and linking to the sites in the content database.

    The key to both is having an image (Hyper-V would be ideal) ready to accept the restore method which works best for you, then always return to this image when you want the next transfer of production to test.  Obviously the image needs to be kept up to date with patches etc. to at least match the production system.

    Full Farm Backup and Restore

    This really offers the best option to get almost all of your farm across in a way that matches your production system.  Any basic customizations will come across with the backup – such as tailored menus, change of theme etc.  Problems will be encountered if you use host headers.  In this case you receiving image should just have Project Server installed and the SharePoint configuration wizard completed to the point that Central Administration is available – from here you just do you restore, and substitute the URLs and database server names for your test system.  This assumes the same user names will be accessible from your test environment – if not see Part 2 for some workarounds we use when recovering customers’ systems for testing.

    I have never seen partial farm restores work for me – so when you next want a snapshot of production do the whole thing again – starting with a saved image ready with Central Administration ready to go!

    Database Copying and Re-Provisioning

    If you can live without the project workspace functionality (Issues, risks, documents and deliverables) then this is really easy.  Just restore your 4 project databases to the test system then provision a new site and point the provision job at the 4 databases you have restored.  The user you name will get created, so no issue with different domains – then with this user you can update any others you want to test with.

    If you do need workspaces then this fits into the “I wouldn’t start from here” type of directions.  The default location of workspaces will mean they are created in the same content database as the PWA site itself.  So if you copy the content db from production to test you have all workspaces readily available – but of course PWA will not work as the site is not plumbed into all the right places until you provision a site.  The action of provisioning the site needs /PWA to be removed first – so goodbye to all the workspaces if they happen to be under /PWA (which by default we lead you into this bad situation).  Options here are to provision the site somewhere else – but then it doesn’t match production so isn’t a good test platform.  So better to start from the right place – on the production server have the workspaces in a different content DB from the site itself – then both the workspaces and the /PWA are independent and can be brought together in test without breaking anything. 

    With this type of restore and re-provision you will not maintain any WSS customizations on themes etc. but Project customizations will be kept (menu changes etc.)

    Gotchas

    Some things don’t come across with either of these approaches and will have to be handled manually.  A couple of examples are server side events, which will need to be re-installed in the test environment, and  any custom web parts will also need to be re-installed.

    I will get into more detail with Part 2 – but hopefully this has given you some ideas of the best approach – and both are approaches we do on a daily basis for those cases where we need to reproduce customer’s problems with the customer’s actual databases – either full farm or limited set of databases.

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    Getting Social with Project Server 2007 - Bookmarking

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    Recently V1 of the social bookmarking application for MSDN, TechNet, and Expression was released, which is designed to make it easy for Microsoft's enormous technical community to help each other discover the best resources on any topic from across the web. For more detail on the release take a look at John Martin’s blog for an overview of the release, and Chris Slemp's blog for more detail on bookmarking, including how-to videos.

    I've bookmarked the Project Server 2007 pages I most reference with the tag psvr2007 - so you can see these for yourself at http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/en-US/Profile/?user=Brian%20Smith%20-%20MSFT#sort=recent&page=0&filter=allcontent&tags=psvr2007 and even subscribe to an RSS feed of these links.  Remove the psvr2007 tag to see what else I've been bookmarking (the Chemistry one is fun!).  To see different users listings remove the Profile and user part of the URL http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/en-US/#sort=recent&page=0&filter=allcontent&tags=psvr2007 and we can see other articles tagged with psvr2007.

    image

    By clicking on the "saved by x people" drop down we can see who else is bookmarking articles with the same tag, and even follow links to see what else they are bookmarking.  Taxonomy is obviously the key to success so if we can all agree on psvr2007 as a good tag then we can all join in for our mutual benefit.  Tag away!  Go to Tools page to get started and you can also work in one of 12 available languages.

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    Office 2007 August Cumulative updates update - KB957022

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     ***UPDATE*** Now public - see http://blogs.msdn.com/chrisfie/archive/2008/09/26/announcing-the-release-of-the-august-cumulative-update-for-project-and-project-server-2007.aspx

     The overall KB for the August Cumulative update has been updated, and now includes the KB article numbers for each individual product in the suite of clients and servers.  It is titled Cumulative update packages for August 2008 for the 2007 Microsoft Office core suite applications and 2007 Microsoft Office servers and can be found at the following location.

    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/957022/en-us 

    Please note that not all of the referenced KBs have ben published yet (WSS 956057, MOSS 956056, and Project 956060 and 956061 are not published as of 9/11/08) so not all are live links - but this would be a good KB to bookmark and visit to get the latest on the details of what went in to the August CU.

    I know it has delayed some of our customers from deploying this hotfix as the documents detailing the fixes have not been available and please accept my apologies - but the change in process to the cumulative updates has put a bottleneck into the KB production as so much needed documenting in one go.  Hopefully by the time we release the October CU we will have ironed out this problem and will sync the release and the docs much better.

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    Project Server 2007: Running event handlers on multiple servers in the farm

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    We had a question recently regarding having multiple servers each with some custom server-side event handler code registered and running the Project Application service.  Should this work?  My immediate answer was yes, and I was fairly sure I had done this in the past but wanted to double check.  So I installed the event handler I blogged about recently that did the automatic publish after status updates were applied - http://blogs.msdn.com/brismith/archive/2008/05/06/how-to-ensure-your-accepted-updates-get-published-in-project-server-2007.aspx.  This handler does its stuff but also writes to the application event log.  So In my twin application server farm I pushed through a few updates and accepted and applied them - and each of my servers took a turn at the event handling.  I saw the application event log entries alternating between the two servers - so everything was working just fine.

    But remember - it might make more sense for any logging in a complex farm to go to just one central location, or at least duplicated.  Another thing to ensure in this type of scenario  (which I think was the problem the customer may have been seeing) is that any other files the custom event handler needs should be applied on both servers. So if the event handler needs a setting file to get a URL or GUID to ensure it is working on the right site or entity - the setting file had better be where the event handler is expecting it to be - on each server - or one network location available to each.  And for both settings and logs - ensure your code copes with any contention if you do centralize to a single log or settings file.

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